Taliban assure EU that women will have access to education

After the meeting in Qatar, the insurgents have declared that they will try to defend human rights in accordance with "Islamic principles"

PHOTO/ARCHIVO  -   Woman in Afghanistan

The European Union has concluded two days of meetings with a Taliban delegation. The purpose of the meeting, held in Qatar, was to try to establish some diplomacy with the Afghan country with the aim of safeguarding the security of its citizens and to obtain the withdrawal of economic sanctions.

Despite the meetings, the European Union wanted to be clear about its role in the meetings, reiterating that these dialogues do not imply, in any scenario, "EU recognition of the interim government, but are part of the EU's operational engagement, in the interests of the EU and the Afghan people". 

REUTERS/ALEXANDER ZEMLIANNICHENKO  -  Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban deputy leader and negotiator, and other members of the delegation attend the Afghan peace conference in Moscow.

Thus, during the course of the meetings, issues related to "increased humanitarian aid and the opening of EU offices in Kabul" were discussed, according to Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. Similarly, the Taliban have asked the EU for help in keeping Afghan airports operational and said that both Afghans and foreigners could leave the country if they wished to do so.

After stating that the EU would continue to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, they added in a statement that both sides had expressed "concern about the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan as winter sets in".

These talks have been led by a Taliban delegation headed by Foreign Minister Amir Khan Mutaqqi, who was reportedly accompanied by the interim ministers of health and education, as well as the governor of the Central Bank, foreign and finance officials and intelligence officials. 

AP Photo/Mohammad Asif Khan  -  Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint in the city of Farah, capital of Farah province in southwestern Afghanistan, in August 2021. Several of the country's 34 capitals have fallen to the Taliban, bad news for Afghanistan's women.

For its part, the European leadership has included the EU's special envoy for Afghanistan, Tomas Niklasson, accompanied by officials from the European Commission Service and the European External Assistance Service (EEAS). 

The EU has called on the insurgents to "create an inclusive government" in which access to education for girls and women is guaranteed, as well as seeking to promote democracy. Should the Taliban decide to meet these conditions, the EU has suggested that it will release "additional funding" for the new government, but only for "the direct benefit of the Afghan people".

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul - A displaced Afghan girl looks out from her makeshift tent in a camp in northern Afghanistan in July 2021.

To these conditions the Taliban have responded that they will try to uphold human rights "in line with Islamic principles". In relation to women's entry into the world of work and education, the Prime Minister of the interim government, Mullah Hassan Akhund, has stressed that "women will have access to education and work" and that they will ensure that their access "is easier for them and that they have access to basic and legitimate rights".

It is worth noting that since the Taliban took control of Kabul on 15 August, women's rights have suffered a serious deterioration. In the field of education, the insurgents banned girls from education and separated women from men in the university sphere. On the employment front, women have lost their jobs and have been forced to develop their lives in the private sphere, in a scenario in which they are destined for the domestic sphere.

PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Women in Afghanistan

Alongside this, the dress code has been another means by which the Taliban have tried to silence the presence of women. The burqa has become the main garment for women, and they cannot go out on the streets without wearing it because, according to a Taliban spokesman, "a woman's face is a source of corruption". In addition, they may not wear high heels so that "no man will hear a woman's footsteps", nor may they speak in any public space "because no stranger should hear their voice".

This invisibilisation of women has resulted in many of them emigrating from the country, but not all may suffer the same fate. The vast majority of women have no choice but to stay in Afghanistan and conform, as violently as possible, to a government that does not recognise women in any social space.